Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Commuting Apparel

When my bike commute was 12 miles each way I opted for actual cycling gear and toted my work wear in a back pack.  With a 1 mile each way commute this task seems silly so I've started finding commute friendly work wear.  A summer time favorite is light weight pants with a dressy tank top and cardigan.  It's the layering I need for hot, hot weather.  The cardigan comes off for the ride and I stay cool.
For fall and winter I enjoy tunics and leggings with tall boots.  No leg strap needed to keep pants out of chains - just hop on the bike and go.  You can get creative by adding a skirt on top of the leggings for a fun look.
Two shops I've found nice work acceptable tunics are Terry & Columbia.

I originally thought the Columbia stuff wasn't quite my style, but throw it on over a cami, some leggings, tall boots and add an attention getting necklace it's a fun outfit for work.
The Terry stuff is sometimes lacking in the dressy category, but the quality is great and there are pieces that can work for the office if you try.
Columbia is more of an outdoorsy line of clothes, but I enjoy the following for going to the market or the occasional casual Friday wear:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brain cover

The great helmet debate.
When I ride road or MTB I always wear my helmet, in fact I feel rather naked without it.  But then I started commuting (in this I'm including my rides to and from work, rides to the store, to visit friends, to dinner, etc.)  and it was easy to just hop on my bike with no gear and go.  It makes you feel like a kid - kind of free.  I figured as long as I was going slow, paying attention, or on trails I was OK.  I'm still not sure I disagree with this...
But a couple things happened to make me rethink whether I wear a lid or not:
First, I crashed just playing around in the park when my pedal came off (stripped thread).  Hit my noggin hard enough to break my helmet and give me a slight concussion and lot of neck pain.  I took it at face value - I was playing around, these things happen.
Second, I started a group ride to get beginners into cycling.  I found I wasn't worried about myself because I have ridden enough to be comfortable with my abilities (aside from freak mechanical issues).  I was worried about the newbies - they scared the crap out of me and I realized I needed to set an example.
Not to mention that I felt the need to set an example for all the kids out there.  It's one thing for an adult to make a decision about not wearing a helmet because we can comprehend the consequences - kids can't (and shouldn't).
Anyway, I am now a commuting, helmet wearing member of the community.  In order to help entice me to wear it I bought a fun new one from NutCase Helmets:
It's the Irish flare with "Got Luck" on the back - I love it.  It doesn't even smash my hair too bad.  ;-)

However, one of these days when I have lots of extra cash I might try rocking one of these Yakkay numbers:

They are available on The Bicycle Muse website.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Biking in boots - a commuter's tale

NOTE:  As of 9/27/11 I'm trying to combine my running and commuting blogs...

I've been thinking about doing this blog for quite some time and finally decided to just do it.  I have a blog for running, but I didn't want to clutter my thoughts on running with my thoughts on biking and mostly commuting so here we are...

A bit (more) about me (as a biker):

I've been biking for about 5 years.  In that time I won’t say I’ve gotten serious about it, but I am committed.  I love to ride.  I’m not great at any particular style (jack of all trades, master of none), but I do it frequently.  Weeks in the late spring to early fall include Monday night chill rides that I organized and lead with my man friend.  Thursday night group rides – a more serious group that works in pace lines and has goals of racing.  There is generally a long weekend ride on either Saturday, Sunday or both.  In addition (and probably the biggest reason for me feeling a need for a new blog) is commuting daily.
NOTE:  my commute is only 1 mile – with lunch 4 miles/day total to and from work.
Fall and winter change up biking because of the weather and daylight.  We do some mountain biking on Tuesday nights and cyclocross practice on alternating other days though the week as long as we can and still try to get in long rides on the weekend.  Spin class or trainer rides do filter in to maintain fitness levels when it gets super frigid. 
Another NOTE:  Since I am also a runner (See Back to Running blog), major gaps in bike training are usually due to a running race that’s slipped into the schedule.

So, moving on...
Commuting has opened up a whole different world for me in some ways.  Even though it's short it still requires more planning and thought than hoping in a car and hitting the gas.  In addition the only other people I know who commute regularly (on a chatty basis) are men and they are no help when it comes to what to wear.  So, this blog will deal with me finding my way in this arena and all kinds of other thoughts on biking in general from the female perspective.  

Notes about the title:
  • I don't always bike in boots, but I have been known to on quite a few occasions and in a small town in SW Missouri this tends to cause some stares.
  • I'm particular about my dress, but I don't spend a lot of money on it (hence the 'on a budget').  Also, I'm not a fashionista - I like fun and practical attire (at least I think - you can be the judge as the blog moves along).  :-)

So, stay tuned to hear more about my commuting, clothes that are good for it, and biking in general...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Time off

I guess I hadn't realized how long I had gone without dropping at blog post...

So, I'm not going to recap all that's happened between then and now.  I'm going to fast forward to September 25 and the Berryman Adventure Race.  This is a race I did with Scott, Jamie, and Brandon.  I was ready for this one with the exception of wishing I had a little more mountain biking time on the season.  Of course we know that's normal for me.  We met at headquarters at 6am and were bussed to the start.  Race started a little after 7am.  Trekking/running first.  We hit the first few checkpoints without issue.  We ran into trouble on I think CP 4 and had to do some back tracking to CP 5 then back to 4, then on to 6.  Due to time we decided to skip 7 & 8.  :-(
Next up was a challenge (climbing and rappelling off a wall), then we ran to a couple more check points.  Then a zip line.  After that we hit the bikes for some extraordinarily grueling dirt road hills.  They seemed to go up, up, up - thanks to my one one gear and stubbornness I didn't have to walk.  This was followed by single track.  We made it thought that unscathed (although I was slower than I would have liked).  Canoe was about 13 miles followed by a short jog to the finish.  We crossed the line in 11hours and 19 minutes (still kicking ourselves for the missing checkpoints, but what can you do??).  It was a fun day overall and we finished happy and ready to go again!
NOTE:  I tried to entertain the team by singing random 80's hair metal songs on the canoe - next year I need to expand my repertoire pre-race!

Now, fast forward to 10-10-2010 - the Mother Road Marathon in Joplin, MO.  I trained right.  Going in to race day I felt good.  I did an Adventure Race 2 weeks prior, but I still felt rested.  I had intentions of breaking a PR (4:09).  Race day started out great.  My 13.1 time was 1:55:01.  Up until about that point I had felt good.  I did go out to fast - my first six miles were all 8:30 pace or faster.  I finally got slowed down to race pace.  A little after mile 13 my stomach started cramping up and made it terrible to try to eat anything.  Brady was on his bike with me and he tried forcing me to eat, drink and take walk breaks.  By mile 15 it had gotten hot and I quit sweating.  Bad sign.  I was able to finish - poorly.  Final time was 4:24:08.  Argh.
I'm ready to try that one again already.  Unfortunately my toes haven't been the same since race day.  I guess it's Morton's neuroma, but it boils down to electrical like nerve pain that shoots up through my 3rd and 4th toes mostly when I run or go down stairs bare foot.  I've been diagnosed before and had cortisone shots, but it's been under control for the last couple years.  I took 2 full weeks off of running (still biking) but it was still there when I started running again last week.  I'm looking at new shoes, doing lots of stretching, icing, not wearing high heels and taking ibuprofin as needed for the time being.  A fast 1.5 miles in the 5 fingers yesterday was tolerable.  Planning to try again in the morning - we shall see.  Advice is welcomed.

Till next time run on!